Detroit Tigers' J.D. Martinez, right, is congratulated after his solo home run by teammate Nick Castellanos during the fourth inning today in Detroit. ASSOCIATED PRESS
DETROIT — Anibal Sanchez pitched seven sharp innings, and the Detroit Tigers ended Kansas City's 10-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory over the Royals on Thursday.
J.D. Martinez hit a tiebreaking homer in the fourth for the Tigers, who avoided a four-game sweep and pulled within a half-game of the AL Central-leading Royals. Sanchez (4-2) allowed five hits and a walk, keeping the Kansas City offense quiet even though he failed to strike out a batter.
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Joba Chamberlain pitched the eighth, and struggling closer Joe Nathan struck out the side in the ninth for his 14th save in 18 chances.
Danny Duffy (4-6) allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out five.
Billy Butler gave the Royals a 1-0 lead with an RBI double in the first, but Miguel Cabrera drove in a run with a double of his own in the fourth. Cabrera was tagged out on a bizarre double play when right fielder Nori Aoki caught Victor Martinez's flyball and threw back to the infield, where Cabrera was nonchalantly returning to second.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar caught the ball and made the tag. Cabrera was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned on replay.
J.D. Martinez followed with a solo homer to right, his sixth of the year. He now has a nine-game hitting streak, with a .412 average in that span.
The Tigers won for only the 10th time in their last 30 games. Sanchez went without a strikeout for the first time in his career, but his fielders helped him. Third baseman Nick Castellanos reached over the railing of the Detroit dugout to catch a foul popup in the sixth.
Nathan, who signed with the Tigers in the offseason, brought a 6.57 ERA into the game. He struck out Butler to start the ninth — the Kansas City designated hitter argued the called third strike — and Salvador Perez went down swinging. With the crowd on its feet and anxious for a much-needed win, Nathan struck out Lorenzo Cain to end it.
The Royals were without outfielder Alex Gordon, who sat out because of flu-like symptoms. Detroit outfielder Torii Hunter (hamstring) did not play either.
NOTES: The Tigers play at Cleveland on Friday night. Detroit RHP Rick Porcello (8-4) faces Cleveland RHP Corey Kluber (6-4). ... The Royals host Seattle. Kansas City RHP James Shields (7-3) takes on Mariners RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (5-3).